By Deb Fristik
Johnny Appleseed on a bicycle? No, you weren’t dreaming if you saw cyclists planting trees in Ohio recently.
Fifty riders rode 581 miles through the state, stopping along the way to plant and dedicate trees, meet with government officials, and entertain children with tree activities and free picture books provided by sponsors of the event.
It was an Ohio arborist who had the tandem vision of cycling and tree planting: he along with two West Coast arborists created the first Tour des Trees, a 1,100 ride from Seattle WA to Oakland CA. More than a dozen people participated in that first ride in 1991. Now in its 26th year, this is the first time Tour des Trees has been held in Ohio.
For the past eight years, Susan Paul, age 65, of Aurora, has participated in and completed the annual Tour des Trees. Her and her husband Wade Peterson, also age 65 and the Ohio co-founder of the event, are part of the 18 member Team Ohio group that participated in Tour des Trees.
For two years in a row, Team Ohio has raised the most money for this annual fundraising event. More than $325,000 was raised this year for TreeFund, the tree education and research nonprofit organization that oversees the annual event. Local organizations supporting the event included Davey Tree, ACRT Inc., Arborwear, Independent Tree, and Bartlett Tree Experts, to name a few.
Susan was captain of this year’s team. “I love the ride, and I like the challenge,” says Susan who normally rides 100 miles a week to keep in shape for the long distance rides. “Our team did a couple of group rides of about 40 miles each. I’ve been cycling 25 years now, and Wade and I ride year round. There are times throughout the year that we take our bikes and train in a warmer climate.”
Wade and Susan especially enjoy road riding through Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Susan said her favorite part of last week’s Tour des Trees was the 110 miles back to Mohican State Park through the hilly and scenic Amish and Mennonite communities. “It was idyllic,” she says, “the land was beautiful and the people were so nice.”
Wade loves the camaraderie as its easy to talk with fellow cyclers while on a ride. He was pleased to hear riders from other states comment on the beauty of Northeast Ohio.
If you’re a tree lover and would like to support Team Ohio, you still can at a Summer BBQ fundraiser in Kirtland on August 25th from 3 – 8 pm featuring live music by BlueJohn and Phil Madewell, wine and beer tastings. Registration is $50. For more information visit https://www.ohiochapterisa.
(photos are of Susan Paul and Wade Peterson)